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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 5

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-20

Disheartening Outlook on Life

1-8. Disorders in the religious, in the political world. In the earlier part of this chapter the writer turns from secular to religious matters. H e points out the irreverence which belongs to worship offered without due thought.

1. Keep thy foot] cp. Psalms 119:101; Proverbs 1:15. Either be silent, or use thoughtfully framed words of prayer, as contrasted with hasty offerings combined with ungodliness of life.

And be more ready to hear] RV ’for to draw nigh to hear is better.’

3. A dream cometh] excessive distractions by day bring disordered visions at night. Even so excess in words shows folly in him who utters them. Is known by] RV ’with a.’

4. Defer not to pay it] A vow is not essential, but once made it is binding: cp. Deuteronomy 23:21-23. Vows had an important place in the religion of Israel, as we see from Genesis 28:20; Numbers 6:2.; Judges 11:30; 1 Samuel 1:11; Mark 7:11; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23; Acts 23:21. Cp. also the rule of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:33), which, however, does not add the caution to think before speaking.

6. Suffer not, etc.] i.e. suffer not your hasty vow to lead you into wrongdoing. The angel] either the angel who, according to Rabbinic belief, presided over the sacrifice (this is, however, somewhat out of harmony with the tone of the book), or the priest, to whom the person who makes the vow addressed himself. RM has ’messenger of God’ (see Malachi 2:7).

An error] H e has brought an offering of inferior value, or gives a frivolous excuse for the non-fulfilment of the vow. And destroy] Punishment will ensue. H e here recognises that the world is no mere machine: there is a righteous Judge.

8. Violent perverting] The cruelties of a satrap, or pasha, were part of a system extending through every grade. Each watches (regardeth) with jealousy those below him, and seeks his opportunity for plunder. He that is higher than the highest regardeth] For highest RV has ’high.’ The supreme ruler is no exception. There he higher than they] those who in an Eastern court practically bear rule over the nominal governors. The whole v., however, is obscure with perhaps an intentional ambiguity, and it is possible to explain it as meaning that there is a chance of getting justice by appeal from a lower to a higher tribunal, yea, even to the king himself.

9-17. The evil of avarice.

9. RM ’But the profit of a land every way is a king that maketh himself servant to the field’; because a ruler whose taste lies in that wholesome direction is unlikely to be given to amassing wealth: cp. 2 Chronicles 26:10.

10, 11. Avarice is attended by two evils: (a) it is never content; and (b) responsibility, trouble, and expenditure increase in the same proportion.

14. There is nothing in his hand] Through a reverse of fortune the wealth, which should have descended to the son, has disappeared. The case is thus the converse misfortune to that of Ecclesiastes 4:8. There the riches were to be had, but the heir was lacking.

18-20. Riches are not inconsistent with happiness.

20. For he shall not much remember] He will not be overtroubled by the knowledge that these pleasures are fleeting, and that life itself is uncertain.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1909.
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